My Reaction to Kurt Travis Leaving A Lot Like Birds

I happened to stumble upon vocalist Kurt Travis by discovering Sacramento post hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance who happened to be going through a transitional period with the departure of their first vocalist (of three!) Johnny Craig. Kurt performed vocals on 2 DGD albums before departing to make room for them to reform with their original line up. But some time after all of this I discovered he was now performing vocals for a new band A Lot Like Birds.

With the release of their first album to feature Kurt: “Conversation Piece” it literally ticked every box I wanted to providing a sound on this album I’d describe as a three way love child between Fall Of Troy, Dillinger Escape Plan and The Mars Volta with a diverse technical range of instrumentation bringing some really interesting rhythms and melodies and works of lyrical genius from Vocalist Corey Lockwood complemented by Kurt providing both catchy melodies and backing layers. A listen not for the faint hearted but truly impressive and mind bending stuff.  and personally I think the best lyric video to date with their song “Vanity’s Fair”

The band then returned in 2013 with “No Place” taking a more progressive rock angle to their sound. Admittedly taking me longer to get into but given a few listens and watching/reading a few interviews and applying new context to it I found myself really enjoying this project as much as the last and once again they delivered another fantastic video for their song “Connector”.

So very recently It then came to my attention that Kurt had departed from ALLB. Initially my first reaction was surprise they were still active, I’d seen that Kurt and other members were working on other projects and I’d not really heard much news from the band since the release of “No Place” apart from their support slot on Dance Gavin Dance’s 10 year anniversary tour which I assumed was a one off. Recently Kurt has released a statement as to why he has left the band which has kind of got me thinking.

Kurt’s statement reports him reaching out to vocalist Corey Lockwood after things going pretty silent after their tour with DGD to find he was taking vocal lessons and the reason behind this is that they were planning to take a new direction and remove screamed vocals from their music all together. Kurt mentions that their reasoning for this was feeling their genre was on the way out and it was time to reach out to a broader audience.  This really shocked me as I felt with Blue Swan records, The return of bands like The Fall Of Troy, the rising popularity of festivals like Arc Tangent in the UK and bands like Dance Gavin Dance celebrating 10 years of making music that we were on the dawning of a revival.

So this got me thinking why does this seem to be happening to bands all over? Perhaps it’s my young naive perception of music and bands changing direction for broader audiences isn’t something new. I can definitely think of a few examples of this in classic bands and I can’t pretend that even band’s I’ve grown up following that have done this have all become terrible. What bothers me however is that I feel we the people  need broad audience, easy listening, opium for the masses music as much as we need challenging, impressive, mind bending, manic and sometimes even scary music but right now it’s evident that there’s a disproportionate amount of appreciation or publicity for the former.

With this in mind I can totally understand why bands and artists feel pressured to create for a more mass appeal but surely you can take what you do and apply it into a more inside the box aesthetic without completely re working your genre? Bands like ALLB showed they could take their sound and apply it to the progressive concept writing with “No Place” I’m sure they could take the dual vocal, technically stunning, Epic ad moving writing and make it into something “the kids are into now”.

Whatever happens next I’m curious if a bit anxious to see what the band does next and wish Kurt all the best in future endeavours and  bands of the genre to not give up on what makes them awesome.

 

You can read all of Kurt’s Statement here via Alternative Press

http://www.altpress.com/features/entry/former_a_lot_like_birds_vocalist_says_he_left_band_because_of_new_direction

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